By: Piper Moore (Reporter ‘23)
Amid the stress and the heavy workload of school and extracurriculars, students often start considering what they want to do over the summer during the beginning of the spring. While some students have jobs, go off for vacation, or attend camp, others apply to summer programs whether it be for the arts, STEM, social justice, psychology, or something different entirely. These programs ideally not only further interest in a particular area of study but also look good on college applications. Thus the mad dash for summer opportunities to help build your portfolio begins with endless research, overwhelming application processes, and the collection of recommendation letters. For those not involved with this chaos, consider yourself lucky. This additional work can be extremely anxiety-inducing when piled upon one’s already busy schedule. If you are attempting to find a summer program, here are some tips and resources to help start you on your way and hopefully de-stress the search process.
Disclaimer: in my research process I discovered that pre-college programs particularly can be considered “scams” depending on what you wish to get out of the program. If you are interested in deepening your knowledge on a particular topic or trialing college life, these programs are great. If you are applying to these programs in hopes that they help with future college applications, however, then these programs will likely make little impact. Below is a brief general synopsis of the issues and benefits of these programs, but if you want more information about specific programs then I would suggest searching more independently. Multiple articles express nuanced takes on summer programs, but from what I have gathered, just because the said programs may not help you get into college, they’re not necessarily unhelpful. As aforesaid, they can provide really interesting specialized classes.
When starting your research, first begin by narrowing down your interests, whether that be theatre, politics, math, science, etc. While some programs do combine multiple topics, knowing what specifically intrigues you can help when trying to conduct Google searches. Searching up summer programs without clear criteria will get you nowhere, as you will end up mindlessly scrolling through pages of results. So, while you may not initially know what you want to do over the summer, I recommend taking some time to figure it out before hopping on your computer—speak with your parents/guardians about what they can afford, too. Some of these programs are free, but others can be thousands of dollars. Depending on your socioeconomic background, some programs will automatically be out of the realm of possibility. This reality can be depressing, especially if the programs you’re excited about are not feasible considering your economic background, but it can also be an excellent way to further narrow down your searches. Talking to friends, family, and teachers is a great next step since you can ask them about what programs they might be applying to, what ones they know good things about, and/or what ones they have gone to in the past. Your parents, depending on their free time, can also be another great resource to delegate your research, making the process a lot less stressful for you. For the actual searching, use keywords regarding what you're interested in as well as college names, whether local or not, since nearly every college has a summer program and most of them are virtual this year. Further research about what schools rank higher for certain courses and fields of study can also help with your decision. After gathering information about certain programs, I highly recommend making a spreadsheet or using some other organizational method to arrange the programs you wish to apply to, when their deadlines are, the dates that the program spans, their website URL, and their cost.
With these tips, I’m sure you’ll be able to successfully start your research on summer programs. Below are some of the programs I happened upon in my research to use as a starting point.
Some summer programs you should check out and their deadlines:
Global Online Academy: April 30th, 2021
Summer@Brown: May 7th, 2021
Leadership Institute: May 7th, 2021
Drexel Pre-College Programs: deadlines varying depending on what program (earliest: May 1st — latest: July 9th)